Seed starting: Don’t do what I did edition

Several years ago, I was inspired to save up toilet paper tubes for seed-starting in the early spring. I blame Pinterest. See all these posts about how it’s so easy to do? Additional benefits: you’re recycling and the entire toilet tube can be planted when you’re ready to move the seedlings outside.

Here’s how it went down.

Slits were cut at the end of each tube, so it could be folded up to keep the soil contained.

I dipped the tubes in water first, because I knew the cardboard would wick water away from the dampened soil, and seeds need to be damp for sprouting. But when I dipped the tubes in water, they immediately unraveled like Pillsbury biscuit cans. So I used rubber bands to keep them together.

I put the already-damp soil into each tube, tucked the seeds in and put them in my seed-starting dome. You can use plastic bags, too, or clear plastic bins with lids. Anything to keep the moisture locked in and to raise the temperature.

In a couple of days, the seeds awakened.

After the seedlings emerged, the protective dome was removed and that’s where it all went south. The tubes dried out quickly, wicking the water away from the seedlings. So I added water to the tray to try to keep the tubes damp, and they fell over and some collapsed and some unraveled themselves through the rubber bands. I added traditional seed-starting pots to my inventory because it was going so poorly, I wasn’t sure all the seedlings would survive.

Many did not survive because they dried out, even when I watered several times a day. You can see in this photo how the cardboard dried out at the the top along with the soil. When I took the rubber bands off, the pots fell apart and the soil inside peeled away with the cardboard.

Maybe you’ve had better success? I chalked it up to a #Pinterestfail